When I talk about corruption and its banes in Nigeria, I think I hold a different view and that has sometimes been met with contempt by people. My response, whenever I’m asked about corruption and its solution in Nigeria, is simple and straightforward: ‘The problem of corruption in Nigeria is foundational. To just be throwing a tantrum at corrupt politicians, leaders, companies, youths et al., is like taking the problem from the head. We need to check and correct our fundamental values and ideals as a people because it is by them we do everything we do.’
The majority of people blame the corrupt system; I blame the wacky values that birthed the corrupt system. Some others blame the corrupt leaders; I blame the parents, guardians and decayed society that groomed the corrupt politicians!
What are our governing ideals or precepts as people? I ask.
To rid Nigeria of corruption, we need to start instilling good ideals and God-fearing attitude in our people from the tender age. As a matter of urgency and importance, we must begin to teach people (while they are yet teachable — most especially when they are kids) to stand and live by good precepts, regardless of the decay or anomalies they find in the society. Let’s inform them that they will consistently (yes, they always will) be faced with moral threats but they should always stand their ground, no matter what.
Thus, as these kids mature and grow into adults, our current crop of corrupt adults would be phasing out, and gradually, we would be building society and systems where sanctity is extolled and strength, effort, and intelligence channeled into right ventures.
I recall when I went for a job interview in one of the Asian countries’ High Commission at Victoria Island, Lagos. After scaling their computer-based tests, I was invited for an interview. I had answered a number of questions when one of the interviewers asked me what I could say about the corruption in the country. I just simply gave them the response above. I told them further that it’s not just about leaders; even most of the young lads they see on the street believe that they have to be corrupt before they can survive or achieve anything.
I thought I was speaking sense to my potential employers until I was told that I was yet to answer their questions! No doubt, they wanted me to start shouting and calling names of politicians: the popular thing people do. And this might not be unconnected with my not getting the job later on!
Now, this is not to say that our politicians are not corrupt or that we wouldn’t have fared better if we had had accountable leaders with high integrity in positions of authority, but the issue here is that we are not facing the right direction as far as eradicating corruption in Nigeria is concerned. We can’t only be condemning our leaders when our younger ones — our foundation for tomorrow — are gravely rotting away — value-wise.
Throughout my three decades on the surface of this earth, I have always seen people condemn the government. As one government left and another assumed position, people continued the same lamentation! Can’t we see that this whole thing is not working? Only people of folly would be doing the same thing in the same way, and without desired result, but continue to do it that way!
This piece is a call for us to critically look at the situation of corruption in Nigeria and start tackling it the right way. Posterity will not smile on us if we do not go back to building our moral system and set people’s idea about the way of life, work and wealth accumulation aright.
God bless Nigeria!